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Daon wins contract to provide face biometrics for NZ social benefits

Daon wins contract to provide face biometrics for NZ social benefits
 

New Zealand’s government has selected Daon to provide face biometrics checks for identity verification to access financial support through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

The Identity Check is provided by the Department of Internal Affairs, and compares selfie biometrics to a reference image used for the applicant’s driver’s license or passport.

Daon handles the data, so MSD does not collect people’s photos or biometrics, and the agency says the checks meet its Security, Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics Framework (SPHRaE).

People who do not want to use the facial authentication-based Identity Check service can bring an ID into a service center for in-person identity verification.

The MyMSD application has 90 percent biometric accuracy, MSD says, based on initial tests. Internal Affairs told Radio New Zealand that the tests included 250 people. RNZ reports concerns about potential racial bias, noting that a report from MSD says the systems demographic differentials are “unknown.” Internal Affairs says racial bias was not observed in the trials. Daon’s facial recognition has also already been used for New Zealand passports for years, and Internal Affairs plans to switch to the same algorithm in 2026.

RNZ also reports that the system had high failure rates completing liveness detection in a trial that concluded in September, which were addressed with an update.

The government failed to consult with New Zealand’s Māori population when developing Identity Check, according to previous reports, but MSD found that consultations were adequate, and that between those and planned improvements, the risk of discrimination is mitigated.

MSD’s report says Internal Affairs will use samples gathered from identity checks to re-train the algorithm to improve its performance for New Zealand’s population.

“This is an ad hoc, bespoke process where DIA contracts an external consultant to carry out,” the report says, according to RNZ.

Identity Checks will also be used to detect and investigate fraud in future stages of the rollout process.

The system goes live on November 20.

Daon reports profits

After-tax profits for Daon’s biometrics business were roughly €220,000 (approximately US$239,000) in its last fiscal year, The Irish Times reports, down from just over €253,000 ($275,000) the prior year.

Daon’s revenue declined from €12.2 million ($13.2 million) to €11.2 million ($12.2 million), and sales costs increased by €1 million ($1.1 million).

The Times also notes that Daon sold its 51 percent stake in Digital Trust Identity Services (DTIS) to a U.S.-listed company in July, reported by Biometric Update at the time to be HireRight.

Daon is privately-owned and registered in the Cayman Islands.

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